Meet Steven Pivnik, Founder and Executive ChairmanJuly 24, 2017
Meet the visionary behind Binary Tree, Steven Pivnik. He’s a Commodore 64 nerd, first-generation immigrant from Ukraine, and real live Ironman. Here, he talks about the genesis of Binary Tree, his proudest career moment, and more.
What’s your background?
I came to the States when I was three years old, from Odessa, Ukraine. My family decided to come here to escape Jewish persecution. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when a woman came into a store and broke a bottle over my grandmother’s head. Soon after, we moved into Coney Island, which was basically a Russian neighborhood. We were a typical immigrant family, super hardworking. Everybody worked from sunrise to sunset. That’s where I think I got my work ethic from. And that’s also where I found my passion for computers. My Commodore 64 was my best friend. So it was a natural fit for me to work in the tech industry.
How did Binary Tree get in to email migration?
We had originally developed our reputation as being really great Lotus Notes consultants. Then JP Morgan hired us and said “Hey, you guys know Lotus Notes really well. Can you build us a conversion utility to move from Notes to Microsoft mail?”
It sounded like the most boring project we’d ever heard of. But we were consultants, so we’d trade a dollar for time. We didn’t have anyone available for the project, so I volunteered to do it during my spare time. So for the next two months during my commute, I coded this conversion utility. And that was the start of an entire email migration empire.
What technology advancement in your career has surprised you the most?
The rate at which the mobile app ecosystem was created really surprised me. The smart phone was an incredible invention that changed the world. But the fact that it also became a platform for college students and large corporation alike to launch multimillion dollar businesses almost overnight amazed me.
What’s your proudest career moment?
I have one moment that sticks out and one recurring one. I was once called into a meeting to provide executive support to a sales process where a customer was deciding between two GSI’s for a project where our software was going to be used. The two GSI’s were presenting to the executive team that was going to select the one to use for this multimillion dollar worldwide project. I represented Binary Tree in the first meeting, and my CTO represented Binary Tree in the second meeting. My proudest moment was the opening comment from the senior executive at the customer who said, “Welcome everyone, we have already selected Binary Tree for the project, so I don’t want to hear anything about them. Please tell me why we should select your services team.”
The recurring proud moment is the amount of promotions I’ve witnessed after the completion of a project that we were selected for.
What drives you?
Making a difference is a huge driver in my professional career and personal life. I’m beyond proud that at work we have made a difference in over 40 million end user’s lives by eliminating disruption to their day. It’s often thankless because you don’t hear from end users when everything works just right, but I know the positive impact we had. Personally, I like to drive individuals to lead a healthier lifestyle and I try very hard to always lead by example. Proud to have turned many couch potatoes into very active people.
Anything is possible.